"People ask me how I do this - well, the church is true, and Joseph Smith was a prophet. I have been out in the world and I've looked at so many different things, I have explored a very secular world and there is nothing and nowhere that brings me the kind of joy that I get from going to church."




Emma, I'm so excited to have you on the podcast, you reached out to me with your story and gave me kind of a synopsis over email. And I was just so moved by your story. It's like I said, it's a story that people really need to hear. And I think that it's just so powerful. So, I'm going to just kind of let you go for it and just tell your story from the beginning. And towards the end, I'll ask you a couple questions. And we'll go from there.



Okay, sounds good. So, I guess I'll start at the very beginning, I am a convert to the church. When I grew up, my family was not religious, we didn't go to church was not a thing at all. When I was in my freshman year of high school, I had a friend who, I don't remember exactly how it came up. But she talked about being Mormon. And I was like, what, what is that? I have never heard of this. I don't know anything about it. I think somebody had actually made fun of her, like, picked on her about it. And I was like, I don't understand why these people are doing this. Like what is what's the deal with this. And she, her name is Tiffany, she invited me to church, and I don't know why I was just so well, like, yes, I want to see what this is all about. And the first time I went to church actually wasn't like a sacrament meeting, I went to seminary, early morning seminary, because she was like, “Oh, we go every morning at 5:30 in the morning. And then you can come on Sunday, if you want”.

And I remember, I had a couple of friends that I had, like, dragged with me. Because I was like, “I don't know what this is about. And it's really early in the morning, and I don't want to go alone”. And I remember my friends were so mad at me afterwards. They were like, “No, we're never going to that again. 5:30 is way too early to get up.” But I loved it. I don't know, it was just like, it was such a different experience for me. And I remember that someone had left a left a set of scriptures and had like, moved away. And so, they gave me a set of scriptures. You know, the Bible and the like, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. And, you know, I was sort of told, like, “read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it's true”. And I remember, I want to say, that night or the next morning, I did that. And I had such a profound experience when I did that. It was like nothing I've ever felt before, or really even since that I can describe it was just like, I knew like I didn't even really have to pray. Like I read the first couple sentences of 1st Nephi. And I was like, “yep, something inside of me says yes, this says the truth”. And like I knew right away, and so I talked to my friend and was like, “You know what, tell me more. How do I become Mormon?”

And she introduced me to the missionaries. And my parents – my parents got divorced when I was really young, so it was my mother and my stepfather. They didn't know anything about Mormons, they've never heard about the LDS church. None of us knew anything about it. And I think my mother must have talked to somebody at her work that must have had really bad feelings about the church. Because I remember at first, she was really just sort of like, “Okay, this is weird, whatever, I'm gonna be okay with it.” And then something switched. And she was like, “nope, I don't want you to be part of this. It's a cult. They're all crazy. Like, I don't want you to convert. I don't want the missionaries in my house. I don't want you meeting with them.” And I kind of sort of weaseled my way around that by getting to meet with the missionaries at my friend's house. Because I was like, “No, I want to do this. I don't care what my mother says like this is where I belong”.

And so, I met with the missionaries and I went through all of the, all of the like, I think they've since sort of changed some of the missionary lessons. But I went through all of the ones before you get baptized, and they really, really wanted me to get baptized. And I really wanted to get baptized. And I tried to get my mother to let me and she refused. I wasn't allowed to like, it was like a big deal. Like, you know, when you're 14, everything's so dramatic. So it was like the end of the world that she didn't want me to be Mormon. And so like, even though she was okay with me going to seminary in the morning and going to church on Sunday, she wasn't okay with me getting baptized. That was like, where she drew the line and was like, “When you are 18, and you're out of the house, you can do whatever you want. But until then, no.”

But the missionaries, the elders, I don't even remember their names. But you know, they were pretty insistent. They really, really wanted me to try and convince her and I was like, “you guys don't know my mother.” If she says no, and she digs her heels in then there’s no changing her mind. She's can be very stubborn person sometimes. Not always a bad thing.  So, it just sort of got to a point where there was a lot of pressure to get baptized. And I couldn't, it wasn't something I was allowed to do. And so, I stopped going to church for a little while. And I don't really remember too much between when I stopped. And when I started again, because my sophomore year, I definitely went to seminary for much longer than during my freshman year. And I started meeting with sister missionaries who, you know, I explained to them like, “this is what happened last time, my mom's not going to let me get baptized, like, I'm happy to meet with you. I want to learn everything. But like, that's not a reality.” And they were, you know, I think they were much more understanding. And they agreed to teach me and they taught me all of the like, “before baptism” and “after baptism” lessons just as like, “we're just going to teach you all the things because we know that you want to do this. And one of these days you'll be able to and we'll just teach you everything.


And I loved it. I loved getting up at 5:30 in the morning and going to seminary I had great grades because I’d do my homework between when seminary ended and class would start. And so, I had really good grades.

I think what ended up happening was the person that was driving us to seminary in the morning, moved and so I wasn't able to go and my mom was not going to help me with that she there wasn't anyone else I could get rides with. And so, I ended up sort of stopping going. And there was you know, my mom's kind of antagonistic about the whole thing the whole time. But I kind of wrote in my certain email, I still wanted like that feeling of like wanting to connect with God and my parents were okay with the Catholic Church. They were like, “yes, you can get baptized Catholic.” Because, you know, I had this no understanding that I needed to be baptized, like that was something that I had to do. And so, they were like, “yep, we'll let you go to the Catholic Church. We're okay with that. We don't think they're crazy” type thing.

So, they let me go and I ended up going through the whole like catechism process, the confirmation process. It's about eight or nine months of like, classes you take and at Easter around Easter is when you get baptized. And, you know, I loved going to church. I loved studying the Bible. I don't think I ever lost my testimony of the church. It was just I wasn't allowed to and so I was just sort of doing the best I could to still, like live that sort of like righteous life and at the time I was like –I'm transgender for those who are listening and who aren't aware –so, I was male presenting at the time, and I wanted to be a priest, I was like “I want to devote my life to God, I want to, like, I want to go and become a priest.” And I remember asking the priest that had baptized me, like what that process was, and he was really kind of dismissive. He was just like, “whoa, slow down, you’ve been a Catholic for like, two minutes. Like, just wait on that.”  And, again, I think I was 17 or 18. So, it was still like, it was very crushing. Like, “oh, this is something I really cared about and wanted to do.” So that sort of, I don't know, tarnished things at the Catholic church a little for me.

After that school year, that was my senior year of high school. I started working as a lifeguard at the community center. And one of the other lifeguards was one of the guys I had gone to seminary with. And, you know, we really caught up with one another. And he hadn't gone on his mission yet. He was planning to go; he was working to save money so that he could like pay whatever to go on his mission. And, you know, he like zeroed in on me and was like, “wait a minute, you used to come to church, and I don't see you anymore. What happened?” And, you know, my time, summer ended, and I was going up to college, I had sort of made an agreement with him that, like, “No, I definitely, I'm gonna go and I'm gonna get baptized when I go to school, because I'll finally be away from home. My parents can stop me, I will go and finish what I started all those years ago.” And then I didn't do that.

I went to school. And it was a brand-new experience. And my home life was kind of stifling in a lot of ways. My parents were both police officers. So, they were very like authoritarian, and very kind of controlling in a lot of ways. So, there was just this newfound freedom of being college. And I think I just sort of got lost in that and got distracted and completely forgot about this promise to get baptized. And it really wasn't good. Overall, it was not a great experience. My best friend and I had gone to school together, he was Catholic. His mother had actually sponsored me through catechism. And he became an alcoholic, and was drinking all the time. And there was sort of like pressure for me to do a lot of that stuff. And it wasn't ever anything I'd enjoy doing but I went along with it and was just miserable. I wasn't happy. And so, I almost like failed out of college. It was it was a bad, bad time. And so I went back to work at the pool again over the winter break, and Zach –that's the friend I'd gone to seminary with –he was there and he was so excited when he saw me he's like, “did you get baptized?” and was so thrilled and I was like, “oh, no”, kind of feeling like when you forget to write a paper and you're like, that was due today. Like, oh, no, like that sort of feeling of “I can't believe I forgot to do this.” So, he really hammered away of like, “come on. You said you're gonna do this. Why didn't you do it?” And I was like, “okay, okay, yes, I'm gonna go when I go back up. I'm gonna do it this time.” And I did when I went back.

The first week I was back up at school, I figured out that there was an Institute building. So, singles ward right on campus. And I'm from Colorado, that's where I grew up. So I went, I like figured out where it was. I went and I walked in. And the elders, Elder Holland, Elder Dietrich, I'll never forget them. They were sitting there in the little foyer and there were like people running around because it's very active Institute. There was probably almost maybe 200 of us total. There was a lot of people at this Institute.  And I remember walking up to Elder Holland being like, “I want to get baptized.” And they were just like awestruck of like, “Wait, this person we've never seen, never talked to just walked in and said, they want to get baptized.”

And, you know, I met with them. And I told them like, “this is what's happened and I’ve gone through the missionary lessons twice now because I wasn't allowed to be baptized, and I want to be baptized.” And so, I had to go through a third time because you have to, like, cross all the t's and dot all the i's. And I think I did that in about a week, like a week, a week and a half, and then I was baptized. And I just loved it. It was so much fun. I loved Institute classes. My sophomore year of college, there was one of the bishops in the stake who was very wealthy, and he had set up a scholarship program for members of the church who, like you really had to be very, very active in order to qualify for the scholarship. And because I was already so active, they were like, “why don't you join? Like, we have an open spot? Do you want the scholarship? This is what you have to do to qualify for.” And I was like, “for sure, absolutely.” And I mean, that included, like you could never miss a single Sunday, you had to be actively, like, full-time in the Institute classes. We had like a list of members that had either been, you know, sort of out for a while or who hadn't been in church in a while. And like it was sort of our job as part of that to go and try and be like, “Hey, why don't you come to church?” And also, part of it was I moved into a dorm room where all of my roommates were Mormon, like all of us were scholarship students.


And so, it I don't know, there was just, my sophomore year was just really awesome. I guess I should rewind. My freshman year, I had gone to General Conference, like we had tickets. And so, I went with a bunch of people from the Singles Ward, and we drove out to Utah to Salt Lake City. And we went to one or two sessions that we had tickets for. And I remember I went to the priesthood one. And I came out of it. And I was like, I'm gonna go on a mission like this, like, I, this is what I want to do. I feel called to do this. And I decided to tell my parents that this is what I wanted to do. And I don't think I have ever had a more like, horrible, terrible argument with my mother than that discussion, of wanting to go on a mission. And like it was they threatened to disown me, they were like, “if you go on a mission, we're not going to pay for school anymore. We’re not going to like we're not going to help you with college, we're not going to help you like save money for this. Like, they were like we were going to be done with you if you do this.” And so, I had called my father because I was like, okay, he'll support me, he's always got my back, he is a different kind of parent. No, I still remember like, him being so angry at me that I wanted to go on a mission and wanted to interrupt college and I was the first family member on both sides of my family to go to college. So, it was like a really big deal. And so, I was just sort of crushed. Like I'm gonna get disowned. And so that was really hard.

And it kind of became part of what drove a wedge between me and the church a little bit in my later years in college was there was a lot of like pressure, a lot of expectation for young men to go on missions and you know, my parents were like, “Okay, if you are still Mormon and you still want to go to on a mission after you graduate college, we will help you do that. We will pay for it.”  And so it's sort of like, okay, fine, like, that's the compromise, I will finish school first and then I'll go. And I know that they only offered that as like, “we're hoping you forget that you want to be Mormon and that you'll forget about this.”  But it just became, I don't know more and more clear that that wasn't going to happen. And I stopped going to church for a little bit of my, like, senior year of college. And, you know, I had those friends that I had known for years that drank all the time, they partied, they, like, you know, they had a very typical college experience. And they were very quick to be like, “come back, come back, like stop being Mormon, you're boring when you're Mormon, like, come and hang out one party with us.” And I did that a little bit. But it was just miserable. Every time it's always been miserable.


And I had started dating somebody who was not Mormon. And, you know, I was drinking alcohol. And it just kind of very depressing. I just got very, very depressed and was like, you know, what, maybe that word of wisdom was there for a reason. Like, maybe the Mormons are right about this. And, and so I ended up going back to church again. And it was just like, it always was, every time I went back, I was always so happy to be there. And it was so nice. And the girl that I was dating at the time, I told her like, we had been talking about getting married. And I was like, okay, if we're gonna get married, you have to be Mormon, you have to get baptized, like, I'm not okay with us getting married, if you don't convert. And she did convert but it was like, she only did it for me, she wasn't actually interested, she didn't want that she just wanted to marry me and was gonna do whatever she needed to do to make sure we got married. And I did end up marrying her. So, I never went on the mission.  I got married and then moved to Minnesota. That's where I live now. And it wasn't long after I moved her that she stopped going to church, she never was interested in going to church. I did a little bit. But I sort of got to this place. And this is what the really sad part to me comes in is I just kept going back and forth of like, I want to go to church, but then I always end up kind of leaving, but then I always come back and it was really like, okay, I know, my heart tells me that this is true. But like, logically, is this true? I don't know, I'm gonna do this wonderful thing of reading, you know, the anti-Mormon literature, all the different criticisms of the church. And I was like, if I read this, and I still feel like it's true, then I will keep going.

And I did read it. And I remember feeling very, I don't know, confused. And I think a lot of people who do something similar or who end up reading it can often feel really like the church lied to me or it hi things or, you know, there was just a lot of information.  But, you know, there was lots of information that was just like, wow, that really sort of changes my perspective on things. And I think honestly, I was sort of trying to find a reason to not go anymore. And so, it was very easy to be like I'm gonna latch on to this and like, no, none of its real. None of its true. It was just a whole you know, con game or something like I became very not like militantly anti Mormon, but it was just like nope, no I’m done. I even went so far – and this makes me really sad now – I even went so far as like, burned my patriarchal blessing and was like, Nope, I'm done. I'm out like, I'm never going back again. And the funny thing is, I still have those scriptures I got when I first went to seminary, like even through all of that, I still didn't get rid of them, like the ones I paid for and make sense why I'm sort of like, I paid a lot of money for these. But the ones that I didn't, I couldn't get rid of them. There was something that wouldn't let me.


So, I stopped going, and that was about 10 years ago.


And was just like, Nope, I'm done, never going back. And, you know, throughout the whole story, I struggled at various points with my gender and my gender identity. And I think my earliest recollection of really struggling with it was when I was like, probably eight or nine years old. And so, it was always sort of this thing in the back of my mind that I was, I think, trying to avoid or trying to find other things to like, make me feel okay, when there were other things that weren't letting me feel okay.

And so, once I had stopped, I became friends with a few people who were transgender, and went through gender transitions, and it just sort of became really obvious that, like, this was a thing that I couldn't deny anymore. I couldn't deny, like, who I was and how I always felt. And so, I did transition genders in between when I left church, and when I came back, and that was about seven years ago. And I ended up getting divorced from the person that I had married. And I know that there were times in that, like, seven-year period, where I wanted to come back to church. I did, like, I wanted to, like I still felt it, even though like logically, it was like, no, this isn't a thing. It's not true. Like I still felt called to come back. But I just sort of I was scared to because I didn’t, I wasn't going to de-transition, I wasn't going to go back to being Robert, I was Emma. I transitioned socially, I changed my name, my legal gender, like I had built a whole life as this new person.



Did you transition before you got divorced or after you've got divorced?



So, I transitioned before.  She was really supportive through a lot of it, but it was hard, it was really hard on our relationship. And it ultimately it was a big part of why we got divorced was just, I became a woman and she wasn't attractive to women. And we're not really friends anymore, just sort of kind of how it ended at the end. But I don't think we ever hated each other. It was just, she married a man and I wasn't that anymore. So, she and I stayed together for about a year after about six months after I came out to everyone, family, and the world and my job, and school and everything.



How did your parents handle that? You know, with just how they feel about the church and everything. I'm curious to know how they responded to that.



My mother didn't believe me at first, she and that's I love her to pieces. Like I have an overall really good relationship with my mom. Like we've been very close most of my life but there have just been a lot of times where something was really important to me. And she just was like no, that’s not a thing. Similar to like, wanting to be Mormon and coming out as transgender was like, No, that's not a thing. And it took a little while to really like, nail that down of like, no, this is something I'm doing. Like I want you in my life and I love you and I don't want to lose you and I'm going to do this even if you do leave like I tried living this very imposter syndrome feeling life as a man for 29 years, and I'm done, I can't do it anymore. And I think when I put it in those terms, she started to get it.

And then, you know, she came to visit me. And I remember I was in therapy, I started going to therapy, because I was like, I think I should talk to a therapist about this first before I make this giant decision. And I had my mom come to a therapy session, and I think we just it really became obvious to her that I was like, miserable, like, I didn’t want to live anymore, I was ready to just, you know, just end my life because I couldn't. It was either I was transitioning, or I was gonna die like there was no in between. And I think that really changed her perspective of like, “oh, I don't want my child to die. Like, I don't want you to feel so miserable that you kill yourself.” So, I think that flipped the switch for her. She and my stepdad got divorced when I was in the middle, like towards the end of college. So, he didn't factor into it at all.  My father, in a lot of ways, I think he did a better job than my mom in accepting it. He did a better job, like using my proper name and using the right pronouns. So, I think he did better in a lot of ways than my mom did. And I mean, it's been, like I said, seven years, and sometimes she still uses my dead name or my birth name that I don't use anymore. Or she uses the wrong pronouns. She's gotten a lot better at like, using them more properly and, like, will catch herself a lot of the time, but sometimes I still have to correct her and it’s a little bit sad.



So, you know, your transitioned now, you are divorced, and you're embarking on this new life. What happened next?



Well, I'm not gonna lie and say it went great, it didn't.  It was really hard to get divorced. I, you know, I really took that vow of, like, I vowed for the rest of my life to be with this person. So that was really hard. And there is a thing in like LGBTQ communities where a lot of the safe spaces are in bars and clubs where there is a lot of like substance use and a lot of like, not wholesome things. I think it's just an unfortunate side effect of history that a lot of the safe places for people who come out are those scenes. So, I, you know, I was very sad about getting divorced. And so, I mean, I’m not going to lie, I went into substance use, I started drinking a lot and became very unhappy. I have struggled with an eating disorder for a long time, primarily because I hated my body.  I felt so uncomfortable in who I was.  As the transition went on, and I started like hormones and started changing physically, I got better, but substance use and eating disorders have a really high like correlation between the two of them.

So, there was a good period of about four years, three or four years that it was really it was really rough. I didn't do well there was a lot of like, therapy stuff I had to do. I had to go through treatment twice actually. But I came out of treatment and it just became really obvious to me. So, anyone who's familiar with like 12-step or AA, they're very God heavy, they're very “higher power.” And that was hard for me for a while because I have this, like, I want to be Mormon, I want to be active in the church, and I don't think they'd ever accept me. And so like, I had this really not great relationship with, you know, higher power.

It wasn't until I started looking into Judaism, actually, I had a friend who was Jewish, and I started asking them questions, and it sort of gave me this like, one foot in one foot out feeling of like, I get to, you know, lean back towards that, like faith and God that I've always had, in sort of an environment that is a little less. The reformed movement of Judaism is very outwardly open to people who are transgender, or gay, or lesbian or bisexual, they're very well, they have like a really open arm policy towards that. And so, it was sort of this, like, I get to be me, and I get to be safe. And I get to really like embrace my love of God in the way that I used to be able to, and, you know, I was looking into becoming Jewish, because I was like, Yeah, this is, you know, this was like, a happy medium for me in a way.

And I saw I actually had gone back to grad school, I became a therapist, I am a mental health therapist now. And in that process, I became a certified mindfulness teacher. And when I'm helping people with depression and anxiety, and I’m teaching them mindfulness, I sort of had this thought of like, well, maybe I should practice what I'm preaching, right? It's like, I'm going to teach people mindfulness and how it can really help then I should use it myself. When I really started doing that, I really got very still and very quiet internally. And like, kind of quieted my mind and was very present. I really felt the Spirit start to come back. And it became very, very obvious to me. The sister missionaries in the ward that I go to called me, and I screen the phone call the first time, I didn't know it was them. It was just a number I didn't recognize I screened it. And then they called, like, 10 seconds later, and I was like, oh, goodness, is this one of my clients is in like, a mental health crisis. And now I need to answer because, you know, that's my job. And no, it was the sister missionaries, and they were like, “Is brother Thrumpston there?” And it was just this very awkward conversation, where my immediate response was, like, no, no, this isn't his number. Then they were like, “oh, well, would you be okay with us coming over and sharing a message?” I'm like, “No, that's okay. I don't want anything to do with that.” And then like, “okay, well is there anything we can help you with no strings attached?” And I was like, “Nope, it's okay. Thank you. No good luck.” and ended the phone conversation.

And because I had sort of opened myself up to about being able to hear the Spirit again, there was very much like knocking on the door inside my mind. Like, no, no, no, you can't ignore this you need to talk to them. You need to go back to church. And it was a very overwhelming evening of me trying to like, process the cognitive dissonance of like, I'm me, I am transgender. I am this person. And the church is not necessarily the most welcoming or friendly in its policies towards people like me. And yet, I feel this very, very strong call to come back. And so there was just this like, you know, wrestling match with like Jacob and Angel or whoever was wrestling with the angel, like it felt like there was just this wrestling match inside my mind that I was like, Am I really going to do this? And I, you know, I read that they had changed, the church had changed some of their policies a couple of years ago. And, like, there was some movement around it. And so, I was like, Okay, I'm just gonna text the missionaries back and be like, what time is church? What's the address? And I decided that I was going to go, one time, I was going to see how it felt. See how the experience was like, and if it was terrible, I was like, I'm never going to come back. It's going to be done for good. And it wasn't terrible. It was really wonderful. And the funny thing is, it was the weekend, and when I had stopped going to church, it was still three hours. So, I did not know it was only two hours, I wasn't aware that that shift had happened.



Isn't it such a nice shift? Every time I'm finishing church, I'm like, I cannot believe this used to be three hours.



Like the sacrament meetings over we're gonna go to Relief Society. And I was like, Wait, there's not like Sunday school, and that was very nerve wracking, because I sort of had thought, in my mind, maybe I would dip out before Relief Society, because like, that can get a little hairy when you're transgender. As far as I'm aware, the church policies are very like, the bishop and the stake need to like discuss it at the ward level of whether or not they're okay with someone going to priesthood or Relief Society, when they are identifying as a gender not what they were assigned.

And so it was very like, oh, no, what we're going straight to Relief Society and I'm like panicking. Like, I haven't told the missionaries. Who or what I am like, okay, I'm gonna go and it was such a fun experience. Like I won't say I hated priesthood meeting or like, the hour of priesthood, but I always felt kind of uncomfortable. I felt like I wasn't supposed to be there. Like I said, it was very imposter syndrome anytime I was at a priesthood part of church and just sort of assumed that was like normal, I guess, I don't know. So going to Relief Society was a vastly different experience and made me super, super happy.

And, you know, I eventually did come out to sister missionaries and was like, I know you called Brother Thrumpston and I told you; it wasn't his number and then you met me who was definitely a member who knows and that I'm not new to church. So, I'm just gonna, like, reveal the truth here of like, I guess I wasn't completely honest. Like, I used to be him, but I'm not anymore. And they were like, no, we kind of wondered, but we weren't sure. So, they were really great about it. They've been very great about it. And you know, it's just been such a wonderful experience to come back and people I mean, I live in a pretty like liberal city, Minneapolis and St. Paul are very liberal when it comes to LGBTQ things like it's not rare for people here to meet or know transgender people. So, my guess is some of my experience will be different because of that. Because I come from a very like, “pride happy” kind of city. People have just been so nice. And so like, “you're so welcome here.” The Relief Society president was like, no you belong in Relief Society. There's no question on whether or not you should be here and well, I mean, the bishop, he acknowledged that like that he wasn't, like, I'm probably going to say things that are going to be offensive. And please know, I don't mean it that way. Like, I just don't know what I don't know. And like, you know, he's been a little more not in any negative way, but just



Unfamiliar, maybe.



The sisters, a lot of them have very different like, open arms approach to things and they have been really very sweet and kind to me. So, it's been so much easier than I thought it would be.



With things in the church –you mentioned this a little bit in your email— but what are those things that, you know, is it hard for you to think, you know, like, are those things triggering for you like the Proclamation to the Family? Or, like, how do you handle those things that might be kind of a challenge?



I think for me, I've been at this for so long, because it’s been seven years. I was like, interviewed on the news about my gender transition, I wrote a blog for a long time, that was like internationally read and published in periodicals that went out.  I did a lot of activism around transgender awareness and rights. So, this isn't something that's new to me. I'm used to people not understanding or being confused or saying the wrong things. And like, I work in a non-profit, and I'm one of the chairs, and there's two chairs of the Diversity Committee. And, you know, it's an organization that has done a lot of work towards including LGBTQ people. And so, I'm really used to going into environments and being part of organizations that are not quite there that are maybe changing or starting to shift. But as far as the church is concerned, I mean, there are some things that are really hard.  Like this idea that gender is eternal, and that I’m eternally male.  And that who I am as a woman in the world does not reflect that eternal gender.



Another question for you is, you mentioned that you were really diving deep into like anti literature and things like that. How did you kind of reconcile that with coming back? What did that look like for you?



Well, in that period of time, between when I asked when church was and when I actually went, I decided to look at a lot of that, again, not all of that, but I looked at probably the bigger pieces that had been a really big, like, falling out point for me. And it was, I don't know, it was so easy to see it differently. Like you know, a lot of the criticism of Joseph Smith is like, this idea that he like bamboozled these people, right that he wasn't actually a prophet, and he just did enough that they believed him and everything that they sort of cite as some sort of like, critique on his character as a person is so steeped in rumor, and conjecture.  If we come at this from, he was a prophet, and he was helping in the restoration of the church, and we believe Satan was here and has at his capability countless people who, you know, don't want the truth and don't live the truth and who are willing and able to gossip and lie and twist things. To me it just seemed like I don't know how to really explain why, but it just was just like, well, yeah, of course, they said that because they're basing this on rumors and conjecture, like, oh, he talks about, you know, he helped someone who was digging for treasure and then all of a sudden that turns into he was a gold digger. Well, I don't remember what they called it, but, you know, just sort of this idea of like, it can see it easily see how that spreading from one person to the next to the next, who all have mal intent could easily get twisted into something else. Like anyone who's played the telephone game, right? And then you whisper in one ear, and then by time you get to the end, it's completely different than when it started. Like,


that was super obvious to me. As far as some of the more like significant things like I remember reading, I forget, I think it was BH Roberts is that his name,


he had been charged by the church to sort of like, okay, let's look at this devil's advocate point of view. And when you go into the reading anti Mormon literature, they don't tell you, he was trying to do devil's advocate. Right, that was his purpose was to like, “I'm going to try to make this as like convincing as possible. So, we can figure out how we can like, you know, defend against this.” And they don't tell you that, right? They just, “oh, see this apostle, he said this thing, and we talked about that,” and they take it out of context in it. It's just, I mean, this idea of fake news in our common era is the same thing, right?



I think that one thing that's interesting is like, when we first started our conversation, you were talking about how the first time you read the Book of Mormon, and you felt this power, and you felt this feeling and you couldn't deny it. And then like, you talk about the other times in your life.  Oh, and also a follow up with that was, you say, you were so happy, when you're going to church, you're so happy, and then you talk about the times where you're drinking and partying, and you're so unhappy, and it's almost like, “by their fruits, you will know them.”

And it's really just incredible to hear your story and hear, you know, the times in your life when you were at peace and look at, you know, what was going on. And I think that you're so brave coming to church as a transgender woman and being able to be there because you believe that it's true, and you have that testimony. And I can imagine that it's really challenging because, you know, you don't know how people are going to react or what they're going to think. And I think that it's so incredible that you are brave. And I think that you're somebody that can be a huge example for people. And I'm wondering, what advice do you have for people that are in the LGBT community that are struggling and feeling like they don't have a place in the church? Like, what advice would you have for them?



I mean, the first thing I'm going to say is, maybe this probably not what you would want me to say but I don't blame them. If they don't feel like they can be here and be part of this, like I don't. I imagine it is not, it can't be easy for anyone. And I think in some ways, I can be a little unique in that I'm able to sort of sit in that uncomfortable position between like what I believe and but being willing to like endure that because I know that by me doing that, and by me being willing to do that, that in the future, other people who come behind me will have hopefully have a different experience. I mean, I've had a really great experience. I don't want to say like I haven't but just I don't blame anyone who can't handle it. And you know, people kind of asked me like, how do you like well, the church is true, like Joseph Smith was a prophet, like, I’ve been out in the world, I've looked at so many different things I've explored. The very secular that's the word I was thinking very secular world, like I, and there is nothing and nowhere that brings me the kind of joy that I get from going to church and, and, you know, I also to not get so lost in the like what's right and wrong in the world view of the world and religious try to be still and to try and know like internally in their heart what is right, because I don't think they're gonna go straight if they do that.



I love that so much. We have about two minutes left. Do you have any last thoughts or any anything you want to add to kind of wrap up this episode, which by the way has been amazing.



No, not really just I know the church is true. I know that it is. And I believe that I believe there's a reason that I got that sort of nudge to come back now. And I hope that I'm able to help others.



Emma, thank you so much for being on the podcast and yeah, this has been so awesome. So, thank you.